Airlines around the world canceled their onboard food service or limited it to pre-packed box meals due to COVID-19. As more and more people begin to fly again, American Airlines is bringing back food to first class.

Back in March, the US carrier said that it was limiting food and drink service onboard based on flight length and destination. However, passengers were allowed to bring their own food and non- alcoholic drinks for flights under 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) with no food service.

After watching other airlines reintroduce food on shorter flights, American Airlines has decided to re-think its policy. According to aviation website One Mile At A Time, the Dallas/Fort Worth-based airline will restore a limited first class meal service starting Wednesday, August 26.

Meals are now sandwiches

In-flight, meals will be available on short-haul domestic and international flights greater than 900 miles (1,448 kilometers). Before the coronavirus pandemic, American Airlines’ first class customers were used to getting a full-tray meal service complete with a hot entree. It would appear now that, under the guise of modernization, (which is a polite way of saying cost-cutting) passengers will be offered a cold sandwich.

Earlier this month, American Airlines Senior Vice President of Flight Service Jill Surdek told flight attendants that food onboard was going to change during a question and answer session.

According to airline aficionado website View for the Wing Surdek told American flight attendants the following:

“We’re not going to come back with full tray services immediately. There’s going to have to be some interim step. And I really think there’s an opportunity to re-think it. When you think about the footprint we have for meal service, and how we served, it’s been very similar over the years. And is there a way to bring back something that still has a premium feel but is different and more modern, and is this an opportunity to reset in a way that we might have made more incremental changes before.”

In line with measures taken to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, airlines have made planes as hygienic as possible. Each meal will be individually wrapped and served with pre-packaged cutlery.

What can first class customers expect to eat?

On early morning flights, first class customers will have the option of a continental breakfast box or a turkey and Swiss cheese croissant sandwich. First class passengers on flights departing after 09:45 will be offered a lunch and dinner option of a fruit and cheese plate or a turkey and Havarti cheese sandwich.

While we can understand an airline’s desire to limit employee interaction with passengers during this time of social distancing, a pre-wrapped sandwich is a good option. However, it does have all the hallmarks of presenting premium-paying passengers the same food option available in economy class for a fee.

Could this mark the beginning of the end for full-service meals on American Airlines flights?